What is depression?
I WILL say depression is a mental disorder that is usually characterised by people having symptoms like undue sadness, low mood and unhappy for most part of the day and the person energy would not be too good. They may not have interest in activities that they have found previously pleasurable. They may not be able to eat well or sometimes some actually eat too much. They come with problems like weight loss and sometimes it may be as severe as like they want to ruin their lives or actually attempting to end their lives if some of them don’t eventually end their lives. Some may complain of things like poor memory, poor concentration.
In this environment too we have people complaining of other things which are not this usual complain. We have people complaining of heat sensation. They, having temperature but no fever, complaining of heat over their body, over their head. These types of symptoms are quiet common in this environment. And sometimes they have gone to the hospital several times and the doctor can’t actually say this is the problem. They have treated malaria, they have treated several things and they are not getting well and just keep going to the hospital. At such time it may be necessary to actually check may be they have depression at the background. And such symptoms may have gone on for more than two weeks before you can say there is depression.
What can you say are the causes of depression?
There is no one single cause of depression. We have multiple symptoms working together. Sometimes somebody comes down with an illness and some stressful event comes down on the background illness and the person come down with the disorder. Sometimes it may be biology, sometime the environment and sometimes it is psychological factors. So it is these types of things that work together to make someone come under what we call depression.
There a lot of factors working together actually.
Is it curable?
Depression is very treatable, I would say.
You said treatable but is it curable?
It depends on what you mean when you say curable, okay, for things like mental health issues most of them you have tendencies for relapse if somebody has had an episode before and the person has another episode it does not mean that the person is not well.
The person has gotten well but because he has had one before and it happens to him again what people say is that it rarely leaves the body completely. That type of ideology is not what we are saying. Depression is treatable and people get very well and they are able to return to what they have always been. But there are usually chronic illnesses that have tendencies to relapse if one has had this before.
Do societal expectations contribute to cases of depression?
Yes. Most of the time what drive a lot of us is societal expectations. I need to do this, I should achieve this, this is what is expected of me and then that puts you under significant pressure. It puts a lot of us under a lot of pressure and that pressure in a way sometimes is what we can refer to as environment and psychological component of what we have talked about. I am expected to be this and I am not able to achieve it or I have sat for an exam and I then failed; that forms part of expectation and that constitute a significant threat for me which in a way might make one come down with the ailment.
There are different issues in Nigeria which people take to religious houses like possession does depression has anything to do with possession?
In a way I may want to say yes. Because sometimes when somebody has depression the same person may have what we call guilt feeling. The person may then be ascribing to himself or herself some evil things that have happened in the society. He or she would actually say he or she is the cause of such things. And then we have seen elderly people in the community confessing that they are the one that have been responsible to the death of so, so, so in the environment. Because they are now depressed they now see themselves in such thing. We call it guilt; lack of depressive sensor and they would be confessing to evil things that have happened in the environment that they didn’t have any hand in at that time and they would say that they are responsible for the evil things that have happened in the environment. And you sometimes have evil souls speaking to them sometimes if they don’t take them to churches to go and have deliverance for being so possessed. Because when people have depression, what happen to them they have what we call negative view of self, negative view of the world and negative view of their future. So by the time somebody is having negative view of herself or himself to say he has done anything else, you know, that is turning to another thing that is quiet evil because that is the way he will be seeing himself or herself as at that time. And they have negative view of the future in which some of them think there is no hope in the future again their future can never be good and that drives them to inflict injury on themselves to the point of wanting to kill themselves.